Beware: Chupacabra turns up in Pittsburgh

By Darlene White Natale
Point Park News Service

When a Minnesota couple recently spotted unidentifiable road kill with a single clump of hair on its back, rumors of chupacabra — the mythical goat-killing monster — shot across the Internet. Texans and Marylanders swear they have seen them. And in Mexico, the legendary beasts are blamed for the beheading of 300 goats.

Left to right, Mark Urbano, Aaron Leimkuehler, Michael Lotenero, Buddy Bagovich

Chupacabra now have been been observed in Pittsburgh — and they seem to love the interaction. At least, that is, the band Chupacabra, which entertains crowds with an energetic Indie/Alternative style.

“I am a painter and a sculptor,” explained lead vocalist Michael Lotenero, “I was in a show in Pittsburgh where every artist had to tackle a fairy tale. My assignment was Three Billy Goats Gruff. I did a lot of research on goats and did the painting.”

Michael Lotenero

Loterno said the information he gleaned from research about the mythical Chupacabras peaked his curiosity and they adopted it as their band’s name.

“It is like Bigfoot in South America. It is an unknown animal, no one really understands – a mystery,” said Lotenero.

“An urban myth,” Aaron Leimkuehler, the drummer interjects and they both nod in agreement.

The band and their audiences seem to know too much about this cross between a beast, a vampire, and an alien that is rumored to be the culprit in blood-drained livestock found throught the Americas.

Robin Whitaker

Some people in the audience are wearing black shirts with Chupacabra on the front.

“100 per cent original,” Lotenero boasted regarding their newly released CD and the sets they perform at Pittsburgh clubs like The Thunderbird Cafe and Club Cafe on the South Side. He said they are not a cover band.

Lotenerno explained that the genesis of many of their songs are individual efforts that blossom through collaboration. The all-Pittsburgher band merges edgy storytelling with punk rock drive.

“Mark (Urbano) comes up with licks on his guitar. I write poetry and when we all get together we bounce ideas and collaborate,” Lotenero said. “It is truly a team effort to produce a finished song,” added Urbano. Buddy Bagovich play bass for the band. “We all just flesh it out,” Leimkuehler said.

“I was heavily influenced by the sound of post-punk bans like Wire and Television. All the early 80’s CBGB’s bands,” said Urbano whose first local performance was 30 years ago at the Electric Banana.

“We think we have an interesting and unique sound,” Leimkuehler added. He said they

Left to right, Mark Urbano and Michael Lotenero

have a strong punk influence since the band members were previously in punk bands, “We are a little older, more mature. We try for a more polished sound. We are just trying to make music we enjoy playing.”

As a matter of fact, all the guys are mature and have day jobs. Leimkuehler is a mechanical engineer. Urbano is a Teamster. Bagovich is a psychologist, and Lotenero is an artist.

Chupacabta just released a CD that is available on their website, Chupacarbraband.com, or at live shows. Their next show is October 15 at Howlers Coyote Cafe in Bloomfield.

Michael Lotenero